Magical Moments in Childhood
Shale Blog – March 31, 2017
Do you remember a time in your childhood when you took a simple space and made it into a magical place. A space that transported you into other worlds that you have created in your imagination. Maybe this space was the nook under the stairs, a group of bushes in your grandparents yard, your favorite spot in the park or a fort you and your siblings built out of couch cushions. By using your imagination, did you transport and create new realities and see everyday things in a new way? Think back to those spectacular times, those are magical moments in childhood. This is something we are introducing to the children this week in Shale.
It all began with collecting; our big idea. As we have followed the children through play and exploration, it has led us to magical playscapes. We noticed that the children were gathering different materials around the room and collecting them in a special space in the classroom; usually small and enclosed spaces like empty cubbies, the quiet cube and behind the couch. One day Cassi flipped the crib on its side, covered it with a blanket and let the children explore. Immediately they gathered together and shared this space. Some played peek-a-boo through the sides, some just laid in it comfortably and some gathered materials and collected them in the corner of the crib. As the week progressed, we’ve created multiple magical playscapes throughout the room, of all different sizes, darknesses and energies. One playscape was built in the quiet cube. Cassi covered all sides with cardboard, making peep holes in one, a small doorway in another. This playscape was our smallest playscape and dark, very dark. Most of our friends were scared to go in at first, but as each child observed a few others climb bravely into the deep deep dark, they became brave as well and soon followed suit. We added glow sticks to the dark space to add another dimension of imaginary play for the children. Another playscape we built was created using a long table, a sheet and a string of lights. We attached the lights to the bottom of the table to make sure this space was completely lite up for collaborative play. Our student Chyanne created a final playscape, simple yet the most effective. She attached a dark grey sheet to the side of our greenery wall and secured the other end of the sheet under our tree stumps. This simple playscape was immediately filled with children, exploring it from all angles, climbing on both the sheet and the stumps.
Although our friends don’t have many words to express exactly what they are imagining, and the places they are being transported to through this magical imaginary play, this is the age that needs to be given the opportunity to begin. As they grow, the children become capable of inventing symbols to represent their understanding of power, truth and beauty. They have the freedom to push their own boundaries and explore who they are as members of different communities. This play allows them to develop fluid thinking skills – to see people, places, and things in new ways and allows for expression of unique and imaginative ideas. This play allows them to develop systems of their own representation – making up their own words, marks and movements, reshaping cultural experience and developing awareness of the imagined and ordinary worlds they move between in play. This play allows them to create imaginary scenarios where they can explore new possibilities and take possession of their worlds – creating social spaces, shared narratives, alternative systems of power and opportunity to cope with emotional pressure.
Start thinking about these simple spaces in your own home environment, what can you do to help transform your children’s play experience and help it become a magical moment in their childhood?
Have a great weekend,
Sarah. Cassi, Young, and Emily